Game Preview: Raptors vs Blazers

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

Portland Trail Blazers (38-23) @ Toronto Raptors (45-17)

When: Friday, March 1st, 8 P.M. ET

Where: Scotiabank Arena

Leading into tonight’s game:

- Injury report: For the Raptors, Fred VanVleet (left thumb ligament) is out. For the Blazers, Enes Kanter (not with the team) and Evan Turner (left knee) are out.

- Home court: The Raptors wrap up their longest homestand of the season against the Blazers, with Friday’s game being Toronto's sixth consecutive game played at Scotiabank Arena. The Raptors currently have the third best home record in the NBA at 26-6, and enter Friday’s game following a dominant 113-95 victory against the division rival Boston Celtics on Tuesday. After facing the Blazers, the team will head on the road to face the Pistons on Sunday for their first road game since a 104-99 win in New York against the Knicks on Feb. 9.

- Recent history: This is the final regular-season meeting between the Raptors and Blazers this season. The Raptors previously fell 128-122 in Portland on Dec. 14. Though Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points and Danny Green added a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double, Toronto struggled in the absence of point guard Kyle Lowry who missed the game with a thigh bruise. Portland was led by Damian Lillard’s 24 points, as well as a 16-point effort from Zach Collins off the bench. The Blazers come to Toronto after defeating the Celtics 97-92 in Boston on Wednesday night, one night after the Raptors defeated the Celtics in Toronto.

Extra Assists

- Looking forward: Thanks to Tuesday’s victory against the Celtics, the Raptors finished the month of February with an 8-1 record. This is the 15th consecutive month that the team has had a winning record, dating back to February 2017 — the longest current streak in the league. Moving forward, the Raptors have just five games on the schedule against teams that currently have winning records. Their longest remaining road trip is also just three games.

- Continuing to roll: Pascal Siakam led the team in scoring once again on Tuesday, finishing with a game-high 25 points on 10-for-16 field goals, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. He also had eight rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. Siakam finished the month of February shooting 49 percent from three, and 51 percent from the floor as he averaged 21.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game.

- Leading the way: Tuesday’s victory against the Celtics was a classic Kyle Lowry performance: He finished with seven points and 11 assists, but his impact and fingerprints were all over the Raptors victory. From steals to charges drawn to thinking three steps ahead of everyone else, Lowry’s ability to affect and change the outcome of a game is part of why his teammates look to him to lead the way. “He does everything that he needs to do to make us successful,” Pascal Siakam said after the game. “And it doesn’t matter what day it is, if it’s scoring or passing or taking charges — he always does the right thing for us. That’s why he’s our leader.” Lowry's 9.1 assist-per-game average is second in the league behind Russell Westbrook (10.9). He is also averaging 14.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals a game. He is tied for team double-doubles this season with 16, and he has also recorded at least 10 assists in 22 games this year.

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